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Schools have more transparency rules

November 17, 2010 - New State Transparency rules require school districts to post budgets, expenditures and compensations, including employees whose salaries are over $100,000.

According to the district, 14 Clarkston Community Schools employees' base salary meet that level. Total compensation, including salary, insurance, retirement, and other benefits:

Superintendent, $227,157.36; Executive director of technology, $169,487.87; Executive director of business, $165,157.03; Two secondary principals, $153,635.07 and $140,250.47; Two secondary assistant principals, $134,051.75 and $147,214.55; and Seven elementary principals, $132,182.90, $150,632.94, $150,658.26, $150,941.55, $150,902.00, $151,638.63, and $154,585.87.

Dawn Schaller, parent of a Clarkston Junior High School student, pointed out the state rule defines "salary" as "similar to that reported as Medicare wages on the employee's prior year W2."

"Medicare wages" includes retirement and other frindge benefits. According to the district, the report meets requirements.

Presenting its annual audit, Nov. 8, Mark Fleischer and Andrea Edwards from Plante & Moran said the new rule is among several changes this year.

The state has five new classifications for school districts' fund balances.

"It is a different way to look at how we restrict the fund balance," said Fleischer.

There are new definitions and guidelines where the district can reserve and use. It really hasn't changed."

As one of the changes, under GASB No. 54, athletic funds no longer qualify for special revenue fun treatment. It is now part of the General Fund coding structure.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal stimulus program, is set to expire after the 2010-2011 fiscal year. If it does, Clarkston receives $2.29 million less.

Replacing the revenue would be left to the state, and careful planning on the use of current ARRA funds is critical, according to Plante & Moran's report.

"There seems to be a lot we need to implement," said Joan Patterson, Clarkston School Board secretary, at the Nov. 15 meeting.

The new rules will have to be put into board policy statements, Patterson said.

"It is not guaranteed," said Fleischer. "There is a funding act at this point that hasn't been answered. We are not sure where the money will come from after the sun sets."

Plante & Moran also noted a few changes throughout the district that have helped, including utility energy savings, infrastructure enhancements to extend life expectancy of long-term assets, changing health plans and reducing healthcare costs, and the district's three-year school bus plan including lower maintenance costs, maximized number of riders on bus to improve efficiency.

"After going through the year we have gone through and beating ourselves up it is nice to see all the groups working together," said Trustee Bruce Bomier.

The report was completed according to general accounting standards and guidelines. The annual report will be submitted to ASBO International for the twelfth year for the Certificate of Excellence Award.

The district spent $40,800 for the audit services. Every year it comes out of the General Fund budget in the Business Services department.

Budget, expenditure and compensation information must be posted within 30 days of adoption or amendment of the district's budget, including operating budget, personnel costs, details of all school district.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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